A Fisherman I Will be

When I was a young lad on the pier
I knew what was my calling
To get a berth onboard a boat
And earn my living trawling
Fishing was good, money too
My goal now, was to have my own crew
When weather was rough, Big Jack & Charlie
Would school us when at home
To Gormley’s cafe from Henry’s shed
These men taught us all that they had known
Navigation, knowing tides, seamanship and semaphore
We had a hunger for this knowledge
So in our brains did store
To be a skipper we studied hard
Then did our exams in Dublin
Went back to sea do our fishing trips
But in our minds were wondering
The letters came, our teachers did well
Their crew now all full skippers
Ticket safely now in my hand, my next plan
My stomach was doing the jitters
Money now was sorted, my Dad as guarantor
A debt I would repay to him of that I was truly sure
I bought my boat in Scotland in 1978 .
A sturdy wooden craft, from a Broch man called Jim Tait
To get her home, Brendan Mc Dowall was to be the skipper
With myself as first mate, the Ros Inbhir we would deliver
A quiet man was Brendan from Annalong Co Down
Farewell to Jim & the Broch, Cape Wrath we soon would round
A storm got up! so we sheltered in Kinloughbervie pier
Cigarettes running low, I walked to the shop
We both smoked then I fear
One hundred for Brendan, sixty for me
That should get us home
At last Greencastle harbour and I wasn’t on my own
Ropes tied, we needed more smokes both our nerves were fraught
I walked intent to my first stop which would be the village shop
With cigs & supplies in Seamus Pat’s I opened up a store book
Then headed back to the pier & the boat, for men that wanted to have a look
They shook my hand and wished me well
All compliments I gladly took
With nets and crew and chandlery
Sunday evening our first trip date
Reg A343, crew & me no one turned up late
My first command with excited hand
I steered her out of port
The evening clear, the sea was calm
As we sailed down past the Fort
She stood us well that little boat

As we fished around the coast
Four and a half years I fished her, the very best I could
But a new boat now is where my mind stood
I knew what her size would be and what design would suit
Dingle Boatyard, Joe Boyle & his men, is who I would recruit
Their skill and knowlege built a good craft
Plans now drawn with a 10’6″ suitable draft
Paul Stephen was launched on a cold wet January morn
Named after our first two sons the third was not yet born
We left the port of Dingle Feb’83
My crew and I steamed up the west coast
Excited and proud as could be
Family & friend to greet us up on Greencastle pier
When all had congradulated us, next task was sort the gear
I knew what lay ahead, for the crew andme I fear
Hard graft both night and day, wages and overheads
I now would need to pay
Our wee P Steve was fishing well
I kept her crew real busy
As Skipper I knew I was to harsh
But had to fish like crazy
I needed to get men wages and cover debts as well
Their lives and safety were in my hands, on this I constantly did dwell
I knew I shouted way to much to the very best of men
But my job was get the fish and bring all hands home again
I listened out and took good heed on reports from other men
That were fishing all around the coast
With fish slack at home I felt the need to go where the fish were most
Galway then to Ros a bhil on to Dunmore East
Whitefish prawns squid and shells
All tried to say the least
A pattern was appearing from each years fishing rotas
Like treasure seekers we would round the coast hunting allocated quotas
Nigh 40 years had passed me by, and I was growing tired
Of rules and regulations and paperwork not desired
My joy was to fish! not fill out logbooks every tow
I said to myself, Im not enjoying this, sadly boy it’s time to go
My much loved boat I need to sell to pay remaining debt
With a heavy heart and dented pride, new owner’s she did get
Was hard at first this retirement lark! I didn’t miss the stress
But I miss my love for fishing, my boat the life at sea
All the things I loved the best.